Afternoon all! Our second La Liga live commentary of the day comes from Seville as Sevilla welcome an impressive Rayo outfit to the Estadio Ramon. Despite being expected to challenge for a European place this season, the home side currently occupy 13th position. Meanwhile, Rayo have emerged as the surprise package with an impressive run of form since the turn of the year.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Sevilla have just shaded the last five games with two wins to Rayo’s one. The last time the pair met at the Estadio Ramon, in May 2012, Sevilla were comfortable 5-2 winners. However, it would probably be fair to state that much has changed at both clubs since then. That said, Sevilla have scored eight times in their last two home matches against Rayo.
Let’s take a look at how both sides have fared in the league this season. Sevilla currently sit in 13th position in the table, some ten points off fourth-placed Malaga. They have managed seven points from their last six league matches, but have lost just one of their last five in all competitions. They were winners last time out in the league against Granada, meanwhile, with a 3-0 victory over the struggling outfit.
Their home form has been fairly impressive with six wins from 10 matches, but they have lost three times on their own patch. It has been their away form that has contributed to their problems with just one win from 11 matches on the road, taking just seven points in the process. Despite their recent troubles, a couple of successive wins would move them into the European picture.
SEVILLA: Beto; Navarro, Spahic, Fazio, Cicinho; Reyes, Rakitic, Medel, Kondogbia, Navas; Negredo
RAYO: Ruben; Casado, Tito, Amat, Galvez; Fuego, Trashorras, Carlos, Chori; Delibasic, Lass
So there we have it. Sevilla recall Jose Antonio Reyes to their starting side this evening, with the Spaniard and Jesus Navas providing the width to Alvaro Negredo
. Meanwhile, Fernando Navarro and Cicinho start in the full-back positions. Rayo, meanwhile, recall Lass alongside Chori Dominguez and Delibasic in the final third.
Rayo, meanwhile, have been in stunning form in recent weeks. In fact, they currently top the form table in La Liga, alongside Barcelona, having taken 15 points from their last six matches. It has been their home form that has contributed to their impressive season, but their form on the road has been far from disastrous with four wins from 10 matches, taking 12 points in the process.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers for this season. Sevilla have conceded 29 goals in their 21 matches thus far, which is just about midtable in terms of the rest of the division. Malaga currently top the defensive table with 19 goals conceded, while Deportivo sit bottom with 45. Down the other end, Sevilla have scored 29 goals, which again, is in keeping with their current position in the table.
Rayo’s numbers are quite surprising. Despite being sixth in the table, they have conceded 36 goals thus far, with just three teams conceding more. They have impressed down the other end with 30 goals in 21 matches, the majority of those have come in recent weeks, however, with wins over Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao, Getafe and Levante.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just about time for my pre-match prediction. Both teams have been in good form in recent weeks, but I am backing Sevilla to pick up all three points this afternoon. Be sure to remain with us for the entirety.
Let's hope that we can keep all 22 players on the pitch this afternoon with red cards becoming a normality in La Liga fixtures. There has also been a host of penalties over the last couple of weeks, which are welcome. Here we go then. The home side get the action underway on this mild afternoon in Spain.
Strong start from the home side as Rakitic collects possession in the centre circle before firing a long pass towards Navas, but the Spaniard just cannot collect under pressure from Tito and the danger is cleared. Navas again causes concern moments later, but Rayo manage to scramble clear.
Sevilla continue their high-tempo start with Reyes driving down the right, the winger combines with Negredo before advancing into the box, but once more the final pass is just wayward. Rayo attempt to break with Dominguez, but the Argentine is stopped in his tracks by Rakitic. Lively opening four minutes in the Estadio Ramon.
The home side really appear to be in a hurry this afternoon as they force two corners in quick succession, but neither comes close to opening the scoring. Another set piece follows moments later, but Galvez just clears under pressure from Navarro. It must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium this afternoon.
CHANCE! Clearest opening of the match comes to the home side as Negredo collects a pass from Reyes before rounding the goalkeeper, but he just takes it too wide of the goal and Tito is across to clear at the vital moment. Rayo just need to ride out this early spell of pressure in order to silence the crowd.
Half-chance for the away side as they force a free kick just outside the penalty area. The resulting effort is taken by Dominguez, but the forward can only thump his effort into the wall. Beto attempts to release Reyes on the counter, but Rayo are back in numbers to clear at the vital moment. Little under 10 minutes on the clock and the score remains 0-0.
Better from the away side in the last few moments with Delibasic and Dominguez seeing more of the ball. However, they have not yet been able to find Lass in a wide position, who is capable of causing all sorts of problems with his pace. Both sides are creating attacking opportunities, but clear chances have been at a premium thus far.
Another half-chance comes to the home side as Reyes dances past two challenges before spotting the run of Negredo in the box, but Ruben is out to collect at the vital moment. Much more of an even contest at the moment, but you get the feeling that there will not be too many goals on offer in this match. A draw would not be the worst result for either side.
Again it's good work from the away side as Javi Fuego collects possession outside the box before firing a powerful effort towards goal, but Beto gets down low to make a fine save. The pressure continues with a couple of throws in an advanced area, but Sevilla manage to clear the danger.
Slightly scrappy period of the match in the last few minutes with both sides guilty of handing away possession in midfield. A couple of opportunities have been created on the counter by Sevilla, but Reyes could only fire wide of the target before Negredo tested Ruben from close range. The referee has allowed this match to flow in the early stages.
Decent spell from the home side with Navas and Reyes combining outside the box before the latter finds Negredo, but the striker just cannot fashion a shot with Tito in close contact. A corner follows, but the danger is headed clear before Rayo advance with numbers. End-to-end football with just about 20 minutes on the clock.
Rayo continue to play a really high-line and it is allowing the likes of Reyes and Navas to slip balls towards Negredo, but the Spaniard has lost his battle with the offside trap thus far. Still Sevilla force the issue down each wing, but Rayo's defence continues to impress. They have been in such good form of late.
Not too much to report in the last few minutes with both teams just struggling to find their way in this match. You get the feeling that the first goal in this match - if there indeed is one - will play a key role in the final result. Another long-range effort comes from Negredo, but it was never close to bringing the opening goal.
Half-chance for the away side as Lass uses his pace to win the race against Fazio, but Beto is out to collect. The Rayo winger attempts to kick the ball from under the goalkeeper, with both Sevilla central defenders getting involved. However, it all ends in smiles and handshakes. In fairness, it has not been that type of match thus far.
Not too much to get excited about for the home supporters in the last few moments with Rayo finding a way to quell their attacking threat. A half-chance does arrive as Reyes twists and turns before attempting the spectacular, but it never had enough power to beat the goalkeeper. Meanwhile, Navas is frustrated as he pulled back by Galvez outside the box.
Another half-chance comes to the away side as Lass darts into the penalty area, but Fazio is across to make a quite wonderful challenge. The Rayo winger wants a penalty, but the referee is simply not interested. Meanwhile, an almost identical incident happens moments later.
Little under 15 minutes of the first period remaining and still the score sits at 0-0 with neither team really doing enough to be leading at this stage of the match. Meanwhile, the tempo has been further slowed with a host of challenges from both sides. Reyes is the latest player to spend a period on the ground, but it appears that he will be fit to continue.
Half-chance for the home side as Navas meets a cross from Cicinho, but he can only head straight at the goalkeeper. His long wait for a La Liga goal continues. Rayo attempt to break with Dominguez, but Navas brings the forward to the ground. There isn't a nice atmosphere at the moment as the fouls continue to build up.
CHANCE! The away side come within a whisker of taking the lead as Trashorras thumps a powerful volley from the edge of the box, but Beto is across to make a wonderful save. That one looked in all the way. Neither side is really in control of proceedings as we approach the interval.
CHANCE! Sevilla come close down the other end moments later as Negredo dives into the penalty area before attempting to chip the goalkeeper, Ruben just manages to get enough on the ball, however, with Tito on hand to clear. End-to-end match at the moment as Lass carries the ball forward down the other end.
It's good work from Lass as the Rayo winger drives down the left before cutting the ball back to Carlos, but Medel is on hand to clear the danger. In keeping with the recent flow, Sevilla advance down the other end with Reyes, but the danger is cleared for a corner, which Navas heads wide of the target. Little over five minutes of the half remaining.
Not too much to report in the latter stages of the half with a host of fouls further slowing the tempo. A half-chance does arrive for the away side as Medel handles outside the penalty area, but the resulting effort from Trashorras is headed clear by Fazio. This first period has just flown by.
Rayo want a penalty as Carlos appears to be bundled over in the penalty area by Fazio, but the referee shakes his head and play is continued. Beto appears to have a problem as he receives some treatment, but he is deemed fit to continue. Meanwhile, the home side are forced into a change as Cicinho is replaced by Coke. There will be two minutes of added time.
Not too much to report in stoppage time with both teams prepared to keep possession ahead of the interval. In truth, it has not been the most enthralling of encounters, with the referee called into action on a number of occasions late in the half. Late opportunity for Sevilla as Reyes fires a free kick into the box, but Ruben clears.
GOAL! Sevilla 1-0 Rayo Vallecano (Rakitic)
Oh my word, what a finish. It's poor goalkeeping from Ruben as the Rayo stopper comes out to make a clearance, but presents the ball straight to Rakitic. The midfielder takes one touch before chipping his effort into the back of the net from some 40 yards. Stunning finish.
HALF-TIME: Sevilla 1-0 Rayo Vallecano
Well, that is certainly some way to end the half. It appeared that we would be heading for a 0-0 at the interval, but a wonderful strike from Rakitic has moved Sevilla into the lead. It was the first real bit of quality in a fairly uneventful half.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. Sevilla have just about shaded the possession with 51%, but they have managed seven attempts to Rayo's three. Based on the opening 45 minutes, a 1-0 score at this stage is just about a fair reflection of events.
Let's take a look at both benches for this match. Sevilla have a host of attacking options in their 18-man squad with Manu del Moral and Baba Diawara capable of influencing proceedings from the bench. Meanwhile, Rayo also have the ability to change things with Adrian, Franco Vasquez and Leo Baptistao all on the bench.
Just a reminder of what we have to come this evening. Following the completion of this match we have action from the Mestalla as Valencia welcome Barcelona. Then in arguably the tie of the weekend, Atletico Madrid welcome Real Betis to the Spanish capital. Be sure to remain with us for the entirety.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all that surprising at this stage of proceedings. Three points for Sevilla would move them into 12th position, while Rayo would move fourth with a win. The away side get the action underway.
Wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium in the early stages of the second period with the home supporters raising their side. You just get the feeling that Rayo need to score the next goal if they are to have a chance of taking something from this match. However, Sevilla have started the second half how they ended the first, in the ascendancy.
It's good work from the home side as Coke picks up possession on the left before drilling a low cross into the box, but Tito comes across to clear the danger. Another half-chance arrives moments later as Negredo turns on the edge of the area, but his shot is straight at Ruben.
Half-chance down the other end as Dominguez evades two challenges before finding Lass on the edge of the box, but Fazio is across to make a fine challenge at the vital moment. The Rayo winger wants a free kick, but the referee shakes his head. Really lively opening six minutes to this half.
PENALTY TO RAYO: The away side are awarded a penalty as Navarro handles in the penalty area. Entirely against the run of play, but Dominguez has the chance to level this match for his side moments into the second period.
GOAL! Sevilla 1-1 Rayo (Dominguez)
Dominguez does indeed step up before thumping his effort into the bottom corner. It is not really deserved, but that is football. The match is so delicately poised with just under 40 minutes of this game remaining.
End-to-end football at the moment with both sides attacking with pace and numbers. However, the referee is continually called upon as the challenges fly in. It's good work from Sevilla as Negredo advances into the box, but the danger is cleared for a corner.
GOAL! Sevilla 2-1 Rayo (Negredo)
Sevilla move back into the lead as Koke advances down the right before whipping a low cross into the penalty area. Negredo simply cannot miss as he turns his effort into the back of the net. What a stunning opening to this half.
Rayo attempt to respond immediately as Jose Carlos collects possession before looking for Lass, but the winger is just challenged by Fazio at the vital moment. Sevilla come close to their third moments later as Navas advances into the box, but Ruben gets down low to make a strong save.
Really is end-to-end football at the moment as Delibasic advances into the penalty area before attempting to chip his effort over Beto, but there is not enough power to trouble the goalkeeper and the Portuguese collects. Meanwhile, Negredo wins a free kick for his side down the other end as he is felled by Galvez.
Another half-chance comes to the away side as Lass collects possession before driving down the right and releasing a low cross into the box, but it just would not fall for Jose Carlos, with Fazio on hand to clear the danger. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining in this pulsating clash.
Slightly sloppy from the home side in the past few minutes as they continue to give away a host of fouls in their half. Meanwhile, Rayo make their first change of the match as Delibasic is replaced by Leo, who was a surprise omission from the team this evening.
Rayo continue to force the issue with a host of corners in quick succession, but Fazio and Spahic remain strong in defence. However, with little over 25 minutes of football remaining, you have to feel that there are more goals in this match. Meanwhile, the home supporters continue to rally their side.
Not too much to report in the last few minutes with the tempo of the game continually interrupted by a host of fouls. In fairness to the referee he is not being over-picky, but he cannot allow such offences to go unpunished. This game has not really got going since Sevilla scored their second.
Little over 20 minutes of football remaining and Sevilla lead 2-1 at the Estadio Ramon. Just a few signs that the home side are prepared to sit in and absorb the pressure, rather than go searching for the third goal, which would more than likely kill the game.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side to score their third as Reyes presents the ball to Rakitic inside the box, but Ruben is across to make a fine save. The resulting corner also causes concern in the Rayo box, but Tito rises highest to clear before Rayo look to break.
Meanwhile, the home side make another change as Manu del Moral replaces Reyes for the final stages of this match. Another half-chance arrives for Sevilla moments later as Negredo meets a cross in the box, but he can only head wide of the target from close range.
The away side continue to go in search of the leveller with Lass and Dominguez operating behind Leo, but Kondogbia continues to put on fires all over the pitch. Meanwhile, Sevilla make another change as Maduro replaces Kondogbia, who once more has been sensational for his side. He is going to become one of the best in the near future.
Another half-chance arrives for Rayo as Dominguez whips a dangerous cross into the penalty area, but it just would not fall for Leo, with the striker waiting for the tap in. Little under 15 minutes of football remaining and you just get the feeling that there will be late drama in this match.
The yellow card count continues to rise as Fazio's name is taken for a challenge on Dominguez. In truth, it is all one-way traffic at the moment with Sevilla sitting in and absorbing the danger. Will that pay off in the final stages? Should Rayo turn this around, then they would move into fourth spot in the table.
Rayo make another change as Jose Carlos is replaced by Franco Vasquez. The away side continue to force the issue as they pen Sevilla into their own penalty area, but Fazio has been wonderful as he continues to clear the danger on each occasion. Backs against the wall for the home team with 10 minutes remaining.
Sevilla have a half-chance down the other end as Negredo combines with Navas before striking an effort on goal, but it is just wide of the post. Rayo advance immediately down the other end with Leo, but once more the final pass is just lacking. Will we have late drama here?
The match continues to be interrupted by a host of free kicks as Sevilla slow the tempo further. They certainly know what they are doing here. It doesn't matter how they win this match, they just have to pick up the three points. Navas wastes more valuable seconds as he wins two corners in quick succession.
Slight stoppage in play here as Medel receives treatment. Just how hurt he is I would question, but once more the minutes continue to pass by. Little over four minutes of normal time to play in this match. A reminder that we have action from Valencia against Barcelona following the completion of this fixture.
Half-chance for the away side as Lass drives down the left before cutting a low pass towards Dominguez, but it just would not fall for the striker with Fazio on hand to clear the danger. In keeping with the end-to-end period, Sevilla force a corner down the other end. However, it comes to nothing. Final change for Rayo as Adrian replaces Trashorras.
Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play additional three minutes at the end of the match. The corner comes in from Rayo, but it moves across the edge of the box before drifting out for a throw. Little over three minutes remaining.
Not too much to report in stoppage time with Sevilla comfortable in dealing with the danger. In truth, Rayo have not really created enough attacking chances to take something from this match. Bar a late, late miracle here, Sevilla will indeed hold on for a vital three points in the context of their season.
Sevilla will end the match with 10 men following the dismissal of Ivan Rakitic
. It is a soft one, but the referee awarded the midfielder his second yellow. Just about 20 seconds of this match remaining.
FULL-TIME: Sevilla 2-1 Rayo Vallecano
So there we have it. Sevilla hold on to secure a vital three points against Rayo. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and remain with us for Valencia against Barcelona. Until then!